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Judge Recognizes Hippos as ‘Persons,’ yet the Unborn ‘Still Have No Rights’: Pro-Life Group

Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Judge Recognizes Hippos as ‘Persons,’ yet the Unborn ‘Still Have No Rights’: Pro-Life Group

Judge Recognizes Hippos as ‘Persons,’ yet the Unborn ‘Still Have No Rights’: Pro-Life Group

A prominent pro-life group is criticizing a U.S. federal court for its landmark recognition of a group of hippopotamuses as “persons” even as – the group notes – courts have yet to grant preborn human babies “the same legal status.”

The unique animal rights case involves a group of hippos in Columbia that were illegally brought there by drug lord Pablo Escobar before he was killed in 1993. Although the group of hippos initially numbered about four, it has since multiplied to between 65 and 80.

Hippos can be notoriously dangerous and kill about 500 people in Africa each year, according to National Geographic. Some in Columbia want to slaughter the hippos, while others have advocated for relocating or sterilizing them. A lawsuit in Columbia could decide the issue.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund – which opposes slaughtering the hippos – last month secured a ruling by a U.S. federal magistrate court to have the animals recognized as “interested persons,” according to the Associated Press. A U.S. statute (28 U.S.C. § 1782) allows anyone who is an “interested person” in foreign litigation to “request permission from a federal court to take depositions in the U.S. in support of their foreign case,” according to the animal rights group.

The ruling will allow the deposing of two Ohio-based wildlife experts who have expertise in non-surgical sterilization. The organization wants the hippos sterilized.

The plaintiffs in the suit are a “community of hippopotamuses living in the Magdalena River.”

It is the first time a court has recognized animals as legal persons, Animal Legal Defense Fund said.

But Live Action, a prominent U.S.-based pro-life group, criticized the decision, noting that preborn human babies “still have no rights” and “lag far behind these animals in terms of rights recognized by the federal judiciary.”

“Sadly, preborn humans are not granted the same legal status as Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos in U.S. federal court,” Live Action said in a blog on its website. “... The U.S. has among of the most extreme pro-abortion legal regimes in the world. It is only one of seven countries, along with North Korea and China, to allow elective abortion past 20 weeks’ gestation.”

Photo courtesy: Gene Taylor/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.